News that several former candidates of the provincial NDP in New Brunswick have defected to the Green Party shook the political landscape as the nation prepares to head into a federal election—but suggestions from one of those defectors that the race and religion of the federal NDP leader played a role in those defections is far more disturbing than any mass migration in partisan affiliation.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is by all accounts a decent and caring individual who holds the fundamental tenets of his party close to his heart. Ostensibly more left of centre than his predecessor at the helm of the federal NDP, Tom Mulcair, Mr. Singh was chosen to lead his party down a more traditional NDP path.
In a free and democratic society one should be free to debate and dispute whether that is the right course upon which we should steer those policies that guide the Canadian ship of state. It’s fair game to do so and such debate forms the very lifeblood of our political institutions.
But to suggest that Mr. Singh’s race, religion or sexual orientation form any part of the basis of that debate should be complete anathema to any decent adherent of a civil society.
When mistaken for a Muslim, or a supporter of Sharia Law on the basis that he wears a turban as part of his religious observances, Mr. Singh has bravely and steadfastly eschewed the simple defence that he is in fact a Sikh—not a Muslim. He does so on the laudable grounds that he opposes and refutes racism or the hysteria that abounds amongst those in the so-called alt-right. He is demonstrably a person of integrity and that is just the kind of person we should be encouraging to enter public life.
One may disagree with Mr. Singh on matters of policy, or the means, methods and even pace in which our nation will move forward, but on this matter of whether race, religion or orientation should be an issue in who we select for political office, The Expositor cannot help but stand in steadfast solidarity with him. Racism and sexism have absolutely no place in a civil society.
As we witness so many incidents of intolerance and hatred erupt across our nation, proving sadly that we are not immune to the plague that seems to have infested so many of our cousins to the south, we must work ever more diligently to renew our efforts toward building a more just society. Despite the seeming ascendance of those outlying fringe attitudes we once dared to believe were banished to the dustbin of history, and for which so many sacrificed so much to protect us from, we must prove to ourselves and our children that we are, in the end, better than that.
Canada has been repeatedly declared the best country in the world, not by ourselves or some populist leader, but by independent outside observers. Let’s not allow a handful of hateful miscreants to mess that up.
When it comes time to cast our ballots in October, let us cast them based on policy that we truly believe will make our country a stronger and better place to raise our children, regardless of what headgear a candidate may choose to wear or in what form they choose to worship (or not) the Creator.